By Danny Schrafel
Four civic groups will host a community forum April 30 to discuss the state’s plans to privatize and expand the uses on the Republic Airport campus in Farmingdale.
The meeting will include leaders from the House Beautiful Civic Association in Dix Hills, Civic Association of Sweet Hollow, and groups representing neighboring Plainview and Farmingdale, organizers said. It is set for April 30 at the Melville Fire Department headquarters.
Those civic leaders are concerned about plans revealed in a request for proposals issued by New York State March 23. The state, which currently owns and runs Republic, is seeking a qualified firm to provide operations, management and business development services for a 40-year term.
During a Feb. 5 visit to Farmingdale State College, Cuomo spoke of plans for Republic Airport in the context of a proposal to redevelop Kennedy and LaGuardia. Under that plan, the ownership of Republic would be privatized, and some flights from Kennedy and LaGuardia would be re-routed to Republic to promote more efficient travel.
The governor also said he supports converting 50 acres of the 527-acre Republic Airport campus into a tax-free zone, complete with a business park and free trade zone. That plan came closer to fruition as a framework for a budget agreement was announced Monday.
The privatization plans are in addition to plans by private air carrier SheltAir, which proposes to reorient a runway and add as many as seven hangars and a new 30,000 square-foot operations building on 41 undeveloped acres south of its current headquarters. Those plans are moving forward, a state DOT spokesperson said Monday.
The FAA is reviewing a final environmental impact statement and is expected to issue a decision on that “within the next few months,” the spokesperson said.
Civic leaders have pushed back, arguing that the project could result in more – and larger – airplanes flying over Half Hollow Hills and Huntington school buildings. Airport officials have said of the SheltAir plans that since the runway wasn’t growing, the planes wouldn’t be, either.
Taff argues Islip MacArthur Airport is more suitable for the intensification, and said the desired effect – bolstering business along the Route 110 corridor in Farmingdale and Melville – will create more traffic congestion on the ground.
“We already have enough problems with Route 110. Why add more?” she said.
A spokesperson for the New York State DOT did not respond to questions by press time Monday night, nor did Michael Geiger, the director of Republic Airport, which is managed presently by the DOT.